The Canyon Spectral and the brand new 2019 Canyon Strive are like non-identical twins. Despite having the same parents and similar genes, they’re quite different beasts. We compared both bikes to reveal which bike best suits which type of rider.

Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team vs. Canyon Spectral CF 9.0

At first glance, the Canyon Spectral and the new Canyon Strive seem similar. Both have 150 mm of travel at the rear and, depending on the model, 160 mm at the front. Neither have extreme geometries and are therefore relatively similar in purpose. So what are the differences? The most obvious are the different wheel sizes. The Spectral rolls on 27.5″ wheels and the Strive is available exclusively as a 29er, making the bikes handle completely differently. But look further into the sibling’s inner workings, you’ll discover more and more contrasts and differences.

The Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 in detail

The Canyon Spectral has been a classic in Canyon’s portfolio for many years. It entered its latest evolutionary stage last year and the bike has been updated this year once again. Unlike last year, the unisex version of the bike now offers 150 mm of travel at the rear and comes specced with a 160 mm travel fork. The women’s specific models will continue as before with 150 mm of travel at the front and a 140 mm at the rear. The frame of the Spectral is available in either aluminium or carbon fibre, with the entry-level version costing € 1,899.

Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 | 160/150 mm (f/r) | 13.60 kg |
€ 3,999

There is space for a water bottle in the front triangle even though the Spectral’s shock is mounted horizontally. For the rear linkage, Canyon relies on a classic four-bar Horst link. The Spectral CF 9.0 we tested is priced at € 3,999 and leaves almost nothing to be desired in terms of componentry. Our only criticisms are the uncomfortable SDG saddle – and no, this isn’t a matter of personal preference – as well as the lack of power offered by the SRAM Guide RSC brakes.

Fork RockShox Pike RCT3 160 mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RCT 150 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 150 mm
Stem Canyon G5 45 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 Carbon 780 mm
Wheels Reynolds TR307 Carbon
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR 2,4″
Weight 13.60 kg
Price € 3,999

More is more
Compared to the previous year, the front and rear travel of the unisex Spectral has grown by one centimetre. The Pike now comes with 160 mm of travel, and the rear suspension provides 150 mm.
The cables of the Spectral are routed through a channel attached to the down tube, ensuring a clean look and facilitating easy access in the case of a service or replacement.
Well protected
Canyon rely on their Impact Protection Unit (IPU) to prevent the handlebars from damaging the frame in a crash. It stops the handlebar at exactly 90°.
Keep it simple
Unlike the Strive, the Spectral doesn’t have a Shapeshifter. Overall, the rear linkage is relatively unaffected by pedal-bob so we rarely needed to reach for the climb switch.

The geometry of the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 425 mm 440 mm 480 mm 520 mm
Top tube 579 mm 605 mm 633 mm 661 mm
Head tube 92 mm 116 mm 147 mm 170 mm
Head angle 66° 66° 66° 66°
Seat angle 74.5° 74.5° 74.5° 74.5°
Chainstays 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
BB Drop 22 mm 22 mm 22 mm 22 mm
Wheelbase 1141 mm 1172 mm 1204 mm 1235 mm
Reach 419 mm 440 mm 460 mm 482 mm
Stack 588 mm 605 mm 634 mm 655 mm

Read on to find out how the Spectral and the Strive compare head-to-head

The Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team in detail

While it was developed in cooperation with Canyon’s Enduro race team, the brand new Strive is not just designed to appeal to professional racers. The integrated Shapeshifter changes the geometry of the bike at the touch of a button. A specially developed handlebar remote lets you choose between downhill and XC mode, shifting the head and seat tube angles by a full 1.5°. In XC mode the bottom bracket is raised and the travel is reduced to 135 mm. The frame of the Canyon Strive is exclusively available in carbon fibre.

Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team | 170/150 mm (f/r) | 14.26 kg | € 5,499

However, you have a choice between the more affordable CF option and a 300g lighter CFR frame. The CF variant is specced with a 160 mm travel fork, whereas the CFR bikes come with a 170 mm travel fork. Pricing for the most affordable Strive CF starts at € 2,999. The CFR Team model we tested goes for € 5,499. As is typical for Canyon, the componentry is spot on, leaving no room for criticism. Weighing in at 14.26 kg, the Strive CFR 9.0 team is about 600 g heavier than the Spectral CF 9.0.

Fork RockShox Lyrik RC2 170 mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RCT3 150 mm
Brakes SRAM Code RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 150 mm
Stem Canyon G5 45 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 CF 780 mm
Wheels Mavic Deemax Pro
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR 2,4″
Weight 14.26 kg
Price € 5,499

The Shapeshifter changes the position of the shock mount at the rocker link, which fundamentally changes the kinematics and geometry of the bike. Unlike similar ideas we’ve seen, it uses a standard shock.
The new Canyon Shapeshifter has two levers that allow you to choose between climb and descend mode. Unlike its predecessor, switching between modes has become a lot faster and more intuitive.
In order to keep the weight of the Strive down, despite its large wheels and the Shapeshifter, Canyon opted for internally routed cables. You’ll need patience if you intend to service the bike yourself.
The Team model comes with a 170 mm RockShox Lyrik RC2. Unfortunately, the more affordable CF models offer only 160 mm of front travel.

The geometry of the Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 400 mm 440 mm 455 mm 500 mm
Top tube 592 mm 618 mm 658 mm 694 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 110 mm 130 mm
Head angle 65.6°-67.1° 65.6°-67.1° 65.6°-67.1° 65.6°-67.1°
Seat angle 73°-74.5° 73°-74.5° 73°-74.5° 73°-74.5°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop 33-17 mm 33-17 mm 33-17 mm 33-17 mm
Wheelbase 1165 mm 1192 mm 1226 mm 1263 mm
Reach 410 mm 435 mm 465 mm 495 mm
Stack 632 mm 636 mm 645 mm 664 mm